Improving Your Smile

Parents and potential patients often struggle to describe what they see as the problem and we’ve heard all types of explanations. For those considering orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child in the coming year, we hope to help you understand what you are seeing!

In orthodontics the word “bite” refers to the way the upper and lower teeth and jaws line up and come together. When the teeth don’t align properly or don’t align at all, this is known as malocclusion or a “bad bite.” A malocclusion does not typically correct itself and if not corrected early, can cause bad habits and unhealthy development in adulthood.

The seven common types of malocclusions that orthodontics can correct include:

1. Crowding occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth. This causes the teeth to overlap and rotate in order to fit in. If not treated, crowding can make the teeth harder to clean which can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.

2. Spacing occurs due to small teeth, missing teeth or oversized jaws. Spacing can be both a functional and a cosmetic issue. Too much space between the teeth causes food to get stuck in open areas which obviously is problematic.

3. Crossbite occurs when the upper teeth fit within the lower teeth. A posterior crossbite is when the back teeth are affected whereas an anterior crossbite is when the front teeth are affected. One consequence of a crossbite if not corrected is that the jaw shifts to one side and grows lopsided. This can lead to permanent facial asymmetries and wear of the teeth.

4. Open Bite occurs when the top and bottom teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed. This can be caused by genetics, excessive thumb sucking, tongue thrusting (in speech) or mouth breathing. If not corrected an openbite can cause swallowing and speech problems.

5. Protrusion, commonly known as “buck teeth,” occurs when the upper front teeth flare outwards. Protrusion can lead to difficulty and discomfort closing the mouth and speech problems. Teeth that are protruding are also at increased risk of damage especially in adults and children involved in sports and outdoor activities.

6. Underbite is similar to an anterior crossbite but it occurs when all of the lower teeth and the lower jaw sits in front of the upper jaw. Usually this causes the face to have what is known as a bull dog appearance. The effects of this malocclusion are tooth wear and stress on the jaw joints.

7.  Deep Bite occurs when the upper front teeth cover the bottom teeth significantly when biting down. Patients with deep bites often complain of pain from biting up and towards the roof of their mouth. Long term deep bites can lead to excessive wear and chipping of the front teeth.

When your bite is healthy and aligned, most everything else falls into place, including function in chewing and speaking. For those in need, orthodontic treatment can truly be life changing!

If you are seeking orthodontic care for yourself or your child, we’d love to meet you. In our office we treat both children and adults with braces and Invisalign. Consultations including initial x-rays are free of charge and no referral is needed, simply give us a call! Please visit our website at to learn more.

We’re excited for a great year ahead building happier, healthier smiles for our Central New York communities!